‘Born with Boots’

Go read Megan and then come back.

Certainly, if we give out lump sums of cash, there will be people who just blow it on drugs, gambling or alcohol. But the current social safety net isn’t immune from fraud either. The research in the story is compelling, showing that most people who are given cash transfers use it to educate themselves and take care of their children.

Word. I’m just about done worrying about what could possibly happen if we give someone who’s poor a truly pathetic amount of money so that he doesn’t STARVE TO DEATH, whenshit like this is going on:

Ed Burke’s Juicy Fruit
“Ten years ago, Chicago’s most powerful alderman, Edward M. Burke, and the rest of the City Council signed off on a deal that promised $16 million in taxpayer subsidies to the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. to help it build a new corporate campus on Goose Island rather than move to the suburbs,” theSun-Timesreports.

“Three years later, Burke’s law firm, retained by Wrigley, persuaded Cook County officials to lower the property assessments for two buildings the chewing gum giant had bought down the street from the new campus. Burke’s legal work helped Wrigley cut its property taxes by more than $412,000 between 2006 and 2008, records show.

“For that, the company says, it paid the alderman about $90,000 in legal fees.”

So Wrigley still came out more than $15 million ahead.

Obviously we can’t trust these schmucks with lump sums of cash, so why not put them on some kind of punitive voucher system and drug test them frequently while mocking them in campaign speeches and on Facebook with stupid memes? I mean, give them lump sums of cash, and every banker schmoe in sight is going to be blowing it on ill-advised IPOs and badly designed vacation homes, or they’re going to lose it altogether. Parasites.

In all seriousness, OF COURSE we should just give people a wad of bills every month (or every week, or whatever) so they can make the same life-or-death decisions about which bill gets paid when that everybody who isn’t Mitt Romney is making these days. Then they could put off buying spaghetti sauce in order to get diapers. Then they could duct-tape the hole in their shoes, so they can go to the pharmacy and get a flu shot. Then their lives would be up to them, the way yours is when you’re not beholden to the crabbiest busybody on the Fox News block.

The only downside to giving away a lump of money is that it would interfere with our need to create a situation where we can be sure they won’t be spending “our” taxpayer dollars on booze, or organic vegetables, or sugary soda, and if there is one thing we absolutely love in this godforsaken country it is getting our national back up over $2.50 worth of fucking groceries. We love that more than football and chocolate cake and handjobs. Telling stories about shitty poor people we know is like our national Olympics and it never ends.

We love it because it gives us a pass not to give a shit about the enduring nature of poverty in America. If we can pull up an anecdote about JUST ONE SINGLE POOR PERSON being an asshole then that means we don’t have to feel bad about the next poor person we see. Because people who aren’t Us are all the same anyway, and love is a bowl of sugar and there’s only so much so don’t waste it on the unworthy. Instead, just sit around on your damn couch and wait for a really worthy cause to come along. I’m sure it’ll be here any second.

Number two, by making it about “our taxpayer dollars” and which side of the line we’re on, we’re giving ourselves the righteously indignant self-esteem boost of thinking we’re on the upside. In truth, welfare of any kind isn’t me paying for your groceries. It’s goddamn INSURANCE that if I need groceries that bad someday and am broke, I can get some. Put it just that selfishly, if you want. It’s not assistance to someone else. It’s making a deposit at the bank of karma and if you don’t ever have to visit that ATM, be fucking glad about it instead of complaining.

We absolutely should have a lot more trust in the inherent decency of the overwhelming number of people who need help in this country, and spend a shitload of a lot less time crabbing at them about the exact brand of pickle relish they buy and whether we think they deserve to splurge on the brand-name stuff this month.


8 thoughts on “‘Born with Boots’

  1. More than once — most recently a couple of weeks ago — I’ve been the proverbial person-in-the-checkout-line behind the food stamp (or benefit card) user. I’ve never seen an arrogant/undeserving purchaser of T-Bone steaks (and even if I did, who the hell am I to judge)? Mostly it’s women doing their best to stretch every last penny of what’s probably a damn small grocery budget.
    Nope, no T-Bone steaks. What I usually see are…generic boxes of cereal (doesn’t require refrigeration), peanut butter (likewise), white bread, lunch meat …the person a couple of weeks ago was elderly. She was buying cans of soup that were on sale, but didn’t notice the fine print indicating a limited number per visit. Which worked out well for me — while the discussion went on, I looked down at my cart, saw I’d forgotten something, and went and got it.
    More and more I’m convinced the loudest complainers are really just engaged in projecting outward their own self-loathing. The shame is that plenty of truly cynical politicians don’t have the slightest guilt in exploiting this at the expense of people who really are suffering needlessly.

  2. Amen. To me, the two central problems are 1)that we can’t think in terms of continua (as from the welfare cheat to the person who really uses their benefits well). As you put it, all it takes is finding one person abusing the system to prove that **ALL** abuse it. 2) That govt programs have ironclad rules that can’t follow the circumstances – your Catch 22 example is perfect (although someone on disability can have some minimal employment).
    I’d also add that often programs that sound good can miss a key point. As an example, my mother worked in a place that put her in contact with a good number of people on govt benefits. One of their programs was to give out certain foodstuffs, like flour. Now we live in a prepackaged world and many of the recipients didn’t know how to bake starting with raw flour – so it went to waste. All it took was for my mother to show them some things they could do with flour and viola…

  3. In their early years, both the Romney and Ryan families received govt assistance. So I guess both their families blew it all on drugs and neither one ever made anything of themselves / snark.
    @MichaelF – exactly.

  4. Mother with two kids checking out in front of me had to suffer the embarrassment provided by the clerk loudly telling her the two boxes of Kix cereal were not on the food stamps list. (Kix, really? Pretty benign). The clerk made a big production about putting the boxes aside while the two little kids watched. This clerk actually seemd to be enjoying the spectacle, so much so I quietly got right in her face and said, Put the boxes in her grocery bag and add it to my bill. And now stop, just stop.
    I cannot imagine having to put up with such indignities to buy my kids some cereal.

  5. America: Where the privileged go on the Internetz to whine about how jealous they are of what little the less fortunate are getting.
    If you believe in God, you can take this one of two ways: This is what it looks like when God has turned his face from us, or this is what it looks like right before God gets really, really angry.

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